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Lift struts/gas spring install on 1982 Grandby, keep rain gutter too


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#1 hooptytank

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Posted 22 July 2016 - 06:44 AM

Finally sprung some cash for lift struts and brackets. The main reason for doing so was the addition of a 320W solar panel and Maxx Air fan. The panel weighs about 80lbs and the fan adds another 10 or so.

Needless to say the top was a bit tough to lift.

 

Parts list:

 

4x JR Products BR10336,  (mine came from http://www.rvautoparts.com/)

4x Suspa c16-10198 gas springs Made in USA, 60 LB(mine came from http://www.liftsupportsdepot.com/)

 After installing these, they are too stiff... almost. I have to actually force the top down, even with almost 100LB extra on the lid. Look for the 40 LB versions, in other threads

40x #8x3/4 sheet metal screws, For aluminum use I like the non self tapper style or commonly called zip-screws. The self tappers have a tendency to make the hole too big in aluminum and strip, but Zip screws displace the material, leaving more threads

 

Tools:

impact and/or drill driver with 1/4" bit

cutoff wheel/grinder

tape measure

Sharpie

tin snips

drill index

BFH (why not?)

 

Here's a basic quick rundown:

*Start with the top up. You need to install these in a fashion that won't interfere with top latches, or other things.

*Eyeball an approximate location of the strut. For maximum force of gas spring you want it as close to vertical as possible in the extended position

*Measure about 36 inches between top frame and camper frame at proposed installed angle.

*Measure 20 inches from previous point on camper frame to an almost horizontal location where the strut would be with top down.

*Install upper bracket near the outer corner of the top. Install strut onto top ball,

* to locate lower bracket, swing the strut to where the lower bracket holes would meet the camper frame and the ball meets the lower strut socket 

*I chose to keep a slight pre-load on spring, so from previous location, move lower bracket outward 1/2"-1" so the ball would intersect the strut near the top of the socket, and install

*On older campers in the rear, the rain drip rail has to be removed, and the lower edge if the trim has to be ground flush with the rest of the surfaces with a cut-off wheel.

Finally if your door closes rather poorly, like mine, you may want to reinstall the drip rail. This causes a bit of interference with the lower socket, but nothing I'm concerned with

* repeat for all corners, trying to keep things symmetrical

 

So here's a pictorial:

 

Parts and tools:

 

ry%3D480

 

struts/ gas spring/ lift support. Go for the 40 LB versions if you don't have over 100 lbs extra on roof

 

ry%3D480

 

 

these come in pairs in each package, you need 4 packs

I chose these brackets for 2 reasons: They have 5 screw holes vs 2 or 5 and the ball mount is taller than all others, to keep the spring from rubbing on top drip rail.

 

ry%3D480

 

 

ry%3D480

 

 for aluminum, I prefer the top right style of screws, not self tapping. Pre-drilling is not needed

 

 Continued in next post


Edited by hooptytank, 22 July 2016 - 02:42 PM.

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#2 hooptytank

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Posted 22 July 2016 - 06:59 AM

Start by installing top bracket after eyeballing approximate location

 

ry%3D480

 

ry%3D480

 

Install spring onto top bracket and locate bottom bracket. Like i mentioned earlier, I want the spring to not be fully extended, but still have a bit of pre-load when top is fully up. This is where it ended up for me

 

ry%3D480

 

ry%3D480

 

Repeat all four corners, here's the front

 

ry%3D480

 

ry%3D480

 

and with top down

 

ry%3D480ry%3D480

 

Notice the massive solar panel. in hindsight I would have spent more and gotten 3 or 4 flexible ones. it's 40"x80" and weighs a lot!!!

 

ry%3D480

 

 

the rear is continued in next post


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#3 hooptytank

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Posted 22 July 2016 - 07:21 AM

For the rear, start by removing the rain drip rail. I modified it to fit after installing brackets.

On the rear I also had to grind the lower lip of the trim piece, so the bracket would sit flush.

 

Make sure the door closes

 

ry%3D480

 

rear top up and down

 

ry%3D480

 

ry%3D480

 

After test fitting everything I marked the drip rail, notched and drilled it so it would fit over the brackets. Also had to massage it a little bit in the area of the spring socket. It still touches, but barely, nothing I'm concerned about.

Also it may nor be as effective as not having holes, but better than nothing

 

ry%3D480

 

ry%3D480

 

ry%3D480

 

ry%3D480

 

Thanks to all the other pioneers before me that attempted this, your input was invaluable.

and if anyone noticed a Keystone lurking in the background, it's for sale ;)


Edited by hooptytank, 22 July 2016 - 02:39 PM.

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#4 Yukon

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Posted 22 July 2016 - 12:33 PM

Very nice post.  I am sure this will help others who do this modification themselves!  One word of caution.  When the Portland dealer put my struts on, they used bracket screws that were a tad too long.  It went through and put a small hole in the bed mattress.  Chris


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Yukon (aka Chris) Photo: Treking frozen tundra above Arctic Circle 2008 Eagle and 2008 Nissan Frontier (Northwest WA)

#5 hooptytank

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Posted 22 July 2016 - 02:48 PM

Very nice post.  I am sure this will help others who do this modification themselves!  One word of caution.  When the Portland dealer put my struts on, they used bracket screws that were a tad too long.  It went through and put a small hole in the bed mattress.  Chris

 

Good point, on the front lower you may be able to get away with 1/2" screws. I had the 3/4 ones and are the same length as the factory used for the center seam plate

 

Also note that everything was installed snug but not tight, basically a mock up. Once everything is installed and functioning to your liking, remove everything, apply some sealer and fully tighten


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#6 DavidGraves

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Posted 22 July 2016 - 11:05 PM

Hoopty

 

It was good of you to post your project especially with the photos.

 

I am getting around to the same task.

 

I think you touched on this but don't you have to make sure the struts fit in the closed position with the top down ?

 

I got my parts from Liftsupportdepot.com also.

 

Thanks again

 

DavidGraves  


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#7 WyoIDI

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Posted 23 July 2016 - 01:58 AM

Thanks for the thorough write up!  I'm about to give my old grandby's roof some help here soon and seeing pics help a lot.

cheers!


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92' Grandby, 93' f350 7.3L CCLB

 


#8 hooptytank

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Posted 23 July 2016 - 08:41 AM

Hoopty

 

It was good of you to post your project especially with the photos.

 

I am getting around to the same task.

 

I think you touched on this but don't you have to make sure the struts fit in the closed position with the top down ?

 

I got my parts from Liftsupportdepot.com also.

 

Thanks again

 

DavidGraves  

 

Yes, you do. I did mention it, but not in detail

 

The spring measurements are as follows: Center-to-Center Length * Extended 35.43" (900mm) * Compressed 19.29" (490mm) https://shop.suspa.c...spring-p82.aspx

 

Here's how I did it:

*Once you eyeball an approximate location of the spring, mark where the upper pivot point is.

*Measure 34.5" to 35.25" to where the lower pivot is and mark that (I went with a shorter measurement to add some preload to the top and make sure it can fully extend).

Drop the top and latch it. measure between the 2 marks, and as long as it's more than 19.29", say 20" for wiggle room you're good

 

Now that I just wrote this it might be easier to do it in reverse order. Start by measuring roughly 20" between the 2 points with the lid down, lift the lid and wherever it sits, it sits.

 

As long as your measurements are between the compressed and extended lengths, you're good to go.


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#9 hooptytank

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Posted 23 July 2016 - 08:44 AM

Thanks for the thorough write up!  I'm about to give my old grandby's roof some help here soon and seeing pics help a lot.

cheers!

 

For sure! I was a little hesitant to get started, but it took me longer to write the post than the actual install. Spent about an hour start to finish. Go for it


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#10 Vic Harder

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Posted 20 November 2016 - 03:59 AM

Did this roof lift mount today.  Thanks to all the excellent ideas and posts, it made it much easier.

 

I used these super nice stainless steel brackets from WestMarine

these are the SS brackets

 

I put the upper rear mount as far to the outside as possible, figuring it would be more stable than if the lifts were more central.  

upper mount
 
Hmm, should the lower rear mount go on this way?
or that way?
 
Or that way?
this way?
 
Decided to go higher to minimize lifting force at the rear, and to not allow water to get trapped by the shape of the mount
 
3/32" pilot hole.  Unfortunately, there does not seem to be anything behind this location.  So the only structural strength is from the aluminum siding.  
pilot hole
 
I put the top mounts on, then measured 20" to the bracket knob on the lower, with the top down and securely snapped in place.
Then installed the lower mounts.  Then attached the shock to the upper bracket, went inside the camper to lift the roof.
Whew, just long enough! 
just long enough
 
A bit of muscle is required to shove on the end to get it to compress a bit, then it just snaps on.
 
Did the same in the front.  Noticed that when drilling the pilot hole, the bit caught on something rubbery.  And remembered someone saying here that if the screws are too long they will poke the mattress.  Sure enough, they do come through all right!
screws stick through

 

Quick work with the dremel to shave them off

shaved screws

 

All done!  Now I am just waiting for the Dicor to firm up before trying it out.

 
 
 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 


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